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Peasants to strike over inaction on land distribution

COLOMBIAN peasants will begin an indefinite strike on Monday to demand the government implement last year’s landmark peace deal.

The strike was announced on Thursday by the Patriotic March umbrella group of civic organisations and a raft of farmers, indigenous and Afro-Colombian community groups.

The include the National Co-ordinator of Coca, Opium Poppy and Marijuana Growers (Coccam) union.

National Association of Peasant Reserve Zones (Anzorc) spokesman Cesar Jerez said: “This national strike is to demand the fulfilment of the [peace] accord.”

“I hope the government respects our right to protest,” he added.

The November 2016 peace deal with the Farc liberation army after 55 years of civil war was the result of four years of talks in the Cuban capital Havana.

It commits to transferring tens of millions of acres from big landowners to farmers driven off their property by the Colombian army and right-wing paramilitaries under cover of the war.

And the agreement states that farmers cultivating crops for the drug trade will be helped to substitute them for legal produce.

Coccam director Luz Perly Cordoba said at least 10 coca growers were killed by police and troops — with others still missing — in a protest against a government coca eradication sweep in Narino province earlier this month.

Patriotic March spokesman David Florez said the current state of the deal’s implemantation was “calamitous.”

“To renege on the accord is to renege on communities,” he said. “We will fill the streets demanding our right to peace.”

Justice for Colombia director Mariela Kohon said: “Peace can only be achieved through the state working alongside civil society to develop conditions that benefit everybody. Yet it persists with repressive methods that generate further instability and, sadly, violence.”


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